The goal is not to live forever, but to create something that will.
One year ago, BIG PH planted the first batch of propagules by the banks of the Pagsanjan River during the term of District 3820 Governor Gina Sy who received more than 32,000 bamboo propagules for the provinces in her area from PDG Edna Sutter of District 3830.
PDG Edna continues to serve as TRF Major Gift Initiative Adviser (MGIA), this time for Environment Protection from July 2023 to June 2026 as appointed by incoming TRF Trustee Chair Barry Rassin. She was TRF MGIA for Basic Education and Literacy prior to this appointment.
In its first year, MGIA Edna’s drive to mitigate the effects of climate change and provide livelihood through giant bamboo farming went through a change in its name, from Bamboo for Environment and Livelihood to BIG PH, the acronym for Bamboo Initiative for Growth Philippines. It is one of the CSR projects of DDC Land, Inc., a real estate development company owned by Martin and MGIA Edna Sutter, with the Rotary Club (RC) of Fort Bonifacio Global City as its Overseeing Partner. Through BIG PH, the Sutter couple intends to invest in hundreds of thousands of bamboo propagules for the ten Philippine Rotary districts.
Partnering with GIBO
BIG PH in Bicol is the result of a partnership between DDC Land, Inc., RC Fort Bonifacio Global City and GIBO.
GIBO means “work” in the Bicolano dialect. GIBO also happens to be the acronym for Group Initiatives for Better Opportunities, Inc., the NGO arm of the Marhay Na GIBO (MNG) Community. Marhay Na GIBO means “good work” or “good deeds.” Side by side with this NGO is the Marhay Na GIBO Consumers Cooperative (MNGCC) which is owned and run jointly by the members of the Marhay community.
GIBO was founded by Atty. Dante Adan and Ronald “Bong” Rodriguez, past president of RC Paranaque Metro South.
Adan was a professor at the Ateneo de Naga in the early nineties where PP Bong was a student. Though at different periods, both held the position of president of the Ateneo de Naga Supreme Student Government. PP Bong recalls that they had frequent discussions on the plight of the Filipino masses.
At the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020, PP Bong received an agitated call from Adan summoning him to Camarines Sur “because there is so much work to be done here.” PP Bong quickly responded. In Naga City, Adan enthusiastically laid out his plan to organize GIBO, through which both of them would help the communities in need. They pulled in Father Augusto “Don” Federico, Jr., parish priest of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, who was assigned the role of president of GIBO. Sabas “Abang” Mabulo was assigned as Chairman of the MNGCC.
While in Naga City, PP Bong was infected with Covid. Because his condition deteriorated quickly, he was urgently confined. Gasping for breath, PP Bong told Adan that he “might not make it,” as both of his lungs had developed pneumonia. He was transferred to the ICU.
While at the ICU, PP Bong said he had a “hallucination”. He felt that he was drowning in water, trying to swim to save himself. Two old women in tribal clothing saved him and brought him to a place where there were bamboo trees everywhere.
PP Bong woke up drenched in sweat. Miraculously, he felt much better. He thought of Adan whose test results revealed that he, too, was infected with Covid. Sensing that Adan would need an ICU bed which was sparse at the time, PP Bong negotiated to be transferred to a private room. With hesitance, his doctors allowed him. On the day he was transferred out of the ICU, PP Bong saw a co-patient being transferred to a body bag. She was a nurse who was admitted on the same day as he.
Adan took over PP Bong’s ICU bed. PP Bong promised Adan, “When this is over we will serve God and Ina (Mother) more.” Two days later, Adan was intubated. On the evening of the same day, Adan passed away. (Note: Atty. Dante P. Adan, a CPA-lawyer, was the former Chief of Staff of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.)
Tribal Women On The Philanthropists Banquet Stage
On February 18, 2023, PP Bong was among those who were invited to attend the 2023 Impact Philanthropists Manila hosted by MGIA Edna Sutter and spouse Martin, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Onstage, he saw Dumagat women in their tribal outfit who are beneficiaries of the bamboo greening project in Rizal, a project of DDC Land, Inc. and RC Fort Bonifacio Global City with the Rublou Group of Companies, PDG Louie Ticman, RC Suburban East Rizal and the Kaksaan Ne Dumaguet de Antipolo, Inc., an organization composed of eight Dumagat tribes.
Seeing the tribal women onstage involved in bamboo greening, PP Bong realized that this was what his “hallucination” meant.
Passion and Commitment in BIG PH Bicol
There are three BIG PH nurseries in Bicol so far: (1) San Francisco, Ocampo, Camarines Sur; (2) Pasto de Iriola Farm, Ocampo, Camarines Sur; and (3) Harris Farm in Calabanga, Camarines Sur.
Key members of GIBO underwent training to understand the requirements of bamboo farming on their own initiative and established partnerships with the DOST, UP Los Banos, and the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the DENR.
A total of 2,000 hectares has been pledged to the project by GIBO, consisting of privately owned land, ancestral domains of IPs, and land owned by a consortia of other NGOs.
The viber chat of the BIG PH Bicol group, which includes MGIA Edna, reveals the passion and dedication of the project protagonists. The lively exchanges cover topics such as frequency of watering, covering the unbagged propagules with moist rice stalk, bagging and weeding.
Father Don is the organizer of volunteers from the GIBO community, mobilizing up to 78 people in a day. Chairman Abang is setting up a motorized watering system for the nursery. The military, the PNP and students have volunteered to help pot the propagules.
As MGIA Edna says with affection, “These propagules are like newborn babies that need milk every now and then until they can be transplanted to the field.”
For PP Bong, BIG PH reminds him of GIBO Founder Adan, who told him that bamboo would do wonders for Bicolanos one day. It also brings to fruition what Adan said, that “the goal is not to live forever, but to create something that will.”
In 2022, TRF Major Giving Initiatives (MIG) Adviser Edna Sutter and her spouse Martin took on a huge task: to mitigate the destructive effects of global warming in the Philippines by creating bamboo forests in all possible areas. Bamboo forests address at least seven of the United Nations` 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Towards this end, BIG PH (or Bamboo Initiative Grant for the Philippines) was launched at the highly successful Impact Philanthropy Banquet 2023 in February which was attended by the top philanthropists of Philippine Rotary and the heads of business organizations, corporations, youth and organized communities.
One of the priorities of BIG PH is to green the denuded ancestral domains of the country`s indigenous peoples with giant bamboo. An MOU was signed by representatives of DDC Land, Inc., the Rublou Group owned by PDG Louie Ticman, the Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City, the Rotary Club of Suburban East Rizal and the Kaksaan Ne Dumaguet de Antipolo Inc., an organization composed of the Dumagat tribes in Rizal to document the long-term commitment of the parties to the project.
16,500 giant bamboo propagules were donated by the Sutters in March 2023 to the Dumagat tribes in Antipolo, Rizal. In return, the Dumagats committed 120 hectares of their ancestral domain for this project alone. The propagules were hauled to Sitio Canumay,
Barangay San Jose in Antipolo City, guided by Reynaldo Doroteo or “Kap Enok,” one of the Dumagat chieftains. A nursery was quickly prepared where the propagules were sorted and bagged to protect them from the sunlight to reduce mortality. About a hundred members of the Dumagat tribes painstakingly watered the bagged propagules several times a day, pulling out stubborn weeds and keeping stray animals away. Prior to the onset of the rainy season, the propagules would be distributed for planting across the vast area allotted for the bamboo forest.
The company owned by the Sutters, DDC Land,Inc ., has distributed 120,000 giant bamboo propagules in 2023 in different areas to test the suitability of the giant bamboo species in many areas in the Philippines including far-off Mindanao, partnering with private individuals mostly through Rotary Clubs. The current and past District Governors of Philippine Rotary have been very supportive.
BIG PH is inspired by RPC21 Manila which advocates the implementation of 4 million good deeds to improve the world. It is an online RI presidential conference that attracted more than 20,000 attendees under the chairmanship of MIG Adviser Edna Sutter, whose club, RC Fort Bonifacio Global City, is the Overseeing Partner of this project. –
It was not an ordinary Sunday morning of July 3, 2022, and as early as 4:00 am, members of the Rotary Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City D3830 with invited All Star Team Presidents headed by AG Bea Tan, together with the executives and employees of DDC Land Inc. prepared and ready to meet up at Areza Mall Pagsanjan, Laguna for the District 3820, Kick Off Project of Bamboo Planting dubbed as Gift to our Shore, at Barangay Lambac along Pagsanjan River with District 3820 Governor Gina Sy.
Bamboo propagules were donated by PDG Edna Sutter to Gov. Gina Sy D3820, during the Turnover Ceremony on April 8, 2022 at DDC Land Office in Pasay City. Bamboo for Environment and Livelihood is part of DDC Land’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) an advocacy of PDG Edna Sutter, CEO and President of DDC Land Inc. A project inspired by RPC21 Manila in which PDG Edna was a Conference Chair. Together with RC Fort Bonifacio Global City, celebrating the initial distribution of at least a hundred thousand bamboo propagules to Corporate, Civic and Rotary Partners. District 3820 who received 20,000 pieces of Bamboo Propagules is one of the earliest recipient among Rotary Districts.
The District event of D3820 were attended by more or less 40 Rotary Clubs with more than 300 Rotarians and guests, and mostly led by its Imaginative Genuine Service Presidents (IGSP).
The highlight of the event is the actual Bamboo Planting along Pagsanjan River. Everybody joined the convoy from Areza mall and escorted by Pagsanjan Police who also maintained orderliness.
There are 2 sites in the river banks where bamboos are to be planted. Holes were ready for planting wherein about 500 propagules were planted in an area of 2 hectares.
Rotarians and guests were assisted by Barangay officials and volunteers, as each club were given assigned areas to plant. Local officials who joined the planting are the Regional Mobile Force Battalion IV-A, City Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) Sta. Cruz Laguna, Tayo and Kalikasan, Philippine Bamboo Professionals and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Laguna.
To represent PDG Edna Sutter who donated the Bamboo Propagules was VP Minette Modesto, of DDC Land, Inc. and overseeing partner RC Fort Bonifacio Global City D3830, represented by PP Rolly Francia were both recognized as they were given Certificates of Appreciation.
As part of its partnership, D3820 is committed to take care of the propagation and planting of said propagules with the purpose of mitigating the adversities of climate change and consequently providing livelihood for the communities who are the beneficiaries of this advocacy.
The program was a success with the support of the Rotary Clubs of D3820 and everyone whose advocacy is Bamboo for Environment and Livelihood.
By: PP Joan D. Carig
RC Fort Bonifacio Global City
A Collaborative Platform with Rotary Club of Tuguegarao Citadel for
Development and Poverty Alleviation
Integrated Farmers Association of Amulung, Cagayan, Inc.
Rotary Club Tuguegarao Citadel D3770
The project will cover 50 hectares within the Cagayan River Basin watershed, the biggest river basin in the Philippines. The proposed pilot project is located in Amulung, Cagayan in geographic coordinates between 170 51’ 23.71’’ North Latitude and 1210 45’ 57.69 East Longitude of Corona classification. It is within the Western section of the Sierra Madre Mountain ranges directly draining to the Cagayan River, the longest river systems in the Philippines. The Sierra Madre Mountain ranges is considered one of the hot spots in the World based on the records of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to the anthropogenic pressures on its biodiversity on both flora and fauna, and the threat to the ecosystems services that it provides to thousands of farmers rely on farming as their livelihood to feed their families. In addition, its significant contribution on the ecological functions to mitigate climate change. The main goal is to restore degraded upland ecosystems and at the same time reduce poverty while creating better environment and resilient rural communities by creating income and jobs through the development of this project. The following are the objectives such as:
• Farmers and Resources: Provide support small farm holders to restore degraded areas to produce quality bamboo and hybrid corn for silage production;
• Trade and markets. Provide technical assistance to develop engineered bamboo products and silage production by creating market chain through the mobilization of start-up capital, technology and credit network for future expansion of the pilot project;
• Policy and research: Initiate research and development to create positive business and rural development efforts to generate technologies on bamboo plantation development and silage production;
• Coordination & management: Facilitate project linkages between the Rotary Club, government agencies (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Science and Technology) and the farmers’ collaborators.
This project is an environmental and market driven endeavor to showcase how degraded areas can be restored by not sacrificing the current livelihood systems of the upland farmers who are the small farm holders and prime collaborators of this project.
The project’s primary justification is based on the strong market for bamboo and silage products both local and international market. The current market and medium term competitiveness of the products from bamboo and corn farming shows that poor communities that will be engaged on this project have potential strong competitive positions to the local and global markets especially when this project will be scaled up to the regional level. The expansion of this project to and industrial scale is very possible as there are around 300,000 hectares available within the Cagayan River Basin ready for the expansion of this pilot project.
The Rotary Club in partnership with the Integrated Farmers Association will initiate this showcase project. The project will entail a project total cost of 60,000 US dollar to include the start-up fund to purchase small equipment for silage production. Silage production from corn to be planted in between the bamboo will start production at first year of the project implementation.
Project Goal and Objectives
The goal is to create a demonstration site that can showcase a technology to restore degraded areas through an integrated bamboo and corn farming. This is to optimize the use of the land without compromising the integrity of the ecosystems.
The objective is to:
• Mobilize the upland farmers that cultivate hybrid corn to participate in bamboo plantation development;
• Create alternative source of income of local communities while restoring the degraded ecosystems;
• Develop a 50 hectares demonstration site to showcase integrated bamboo plantation and corn farming for silage production;
• Replicate this technology to the provinces covering the Cagayan River basin for the bigger purpose and impacts; and
• Promote inclusive development and shared benefits
Project Implementation Plan
The project underscores the partnership principle of the private sector and government in addressing crucial issues. It will be implemented in 3 years period, however, it will be become a multi-year project when it will be expanded all over the Cagayan River Basin depending on how funding donors and government will take the technology that will be developed under this project. The government will provide support and policy guidance for the implementation of the showcase project and the private sector will directly implement the project through the Rotary Club Tuguegarao Citadel.
The land holder of a tenured areas in Amulung, Cagayan will be the direct partners/farmer cooperators to this pilot project. The farmers were awarded a Stewardship Certificate Contract from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop and managed certain portion of forestlands awarded to them.
The target is to develop 50 hectares tenured areas in Amulung Cagayan as demonstration site for integrated bamboo plantation and corn farming for silage production through a funding support from Rotary Club International. The ultimate target is to expand this project to the Cagayan River Basin degraded areas with funding support from government, foreign institutions and private sectors providing support for poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation.
A joint project of DDC Land as its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wherein PDG Edna Sutter is Pres. & CEO, and Rublou Group of Companies of PDG Louie Ticman D3800, RC Suburban East Rizal, and Kaksaan Ne Dumaguet De Antipolo, Inc. a Dumagat Tribe of Antipolo Rizal.
DDC Land employees and Executives together with the members of RC Fort Bonifacio Global City were met by members of RC Suburban East at a meeting place at Shell Marcos Highway as early as 7am and headed their way to the long and winding road to the planting site of the tribes.
DDC Land, Inc. completes the project by donating 15,000 bamboo propagules distributed among the Dumagat Tribes. Bamboo planting was done at Sitio San Joseph, Bgy. San Jose Antipolo City, Rizal Province, one of the land area of the Dumagat Tribes after the short program led by PDG Louie Ticman of D3800.
It was a great day wherein Giant Bamboo Propagation Project will be initially introduced to the seven (7) Tribes represented by their Chieftains. Tribo-Calawis, Tribo-Libis, Tribo-Canumay, Tribo-Apia-Paglitaw, Tribo-San Joseph, Tribo-Maybalon and Tribo-Tabayasan will benefit the said project in the near future.
Project Bamboo for Environment and Livelihood is DDC Land’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wherein PDG Edna Sutter is Pres. and CEO. DDC Land and PDG Edna complete the project for the tribes by donating 15,000 bamboo propagules to be distributed among them. Aside from providing livelihood, bamboos mitigate the effects of climate change. An advocacy of PDG Edna, a project inspired by RI Presidential Conference 21 Manila, where she was a Conference Chair.
August 25, 2022
Officers of DDC Land, Inc., the Rotarians of RC Fort Bonifacio Global City led by President Rachel Verns Fajardo (the club of PDG Edna Sutter), RC Muntinlupa East led by President Mico Reyes, and the members of the Inner Wheel Club of Southern Stars led by Charter President Nene Callanga travelled to Bagac, Bataan to plant bamboo propagules in the hills of Barangay Kainisan.
The Metro Manila contingent was met in Bagac by the Parang Upland Farmer Group Inc. (PUFGI), headed by its President Olivia Mauricio, and Romelo Cuaresma, Forester III and Chief of Monitoring & Enforcement Section of the DENR.
A short program was held to express the gratitude of PUFGI and DENR to DDC Land, Inc. for donating 5,000 pieces of giant bamboo propagules that would be planted in a ravine to arrest the erosion in the area.
Unfortunately, the heavy rains in the past days did not render the muddy roads passable to the planting site. The regular vehicles had to be left behind, and the brave ones who were willing to be taken to the ravine were transported via a trailer pulled by a tractor, six to seven at a time.
The site was treacherous and slippery. Caution had to be taken in navigating the area, as the ravine was as deep as 112 feet at a slope of almost 90-degree-angles in some areas. The presence of the highland farmers was a huge help.
Mission accomplished! The thrill of successfully planting the bamboo propagules, the vision of improving the environment by arresting the erosion of the soil, and the joy of a job well done despite the trepidations, nourished not just the land but certainly the souls of those who cared to take the effort.
This is only one of many projects of Bamboo for Environment and Livelihood, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) undertaking of DDC Land, Inc., led by its CEO and President, PDG Edna Sutter of District 3830. Through this advocacy, DDC Land and PDG Edna aim to actively distribute hundreds of thousands of bamboo propagules to the Philippine Rotary districts to mitigate the effects of climate change and provide livelihood. It is a project inspired by RPC21 Manila, an online RI presidential conference that attracted more than 20,000 attendees under the chairmanship of PDG Edna. RC Fort Bonifacio Global City, PDG Edna’s club, is the Overseeing Partner of this project.